In a landmark ruling, India’s Supreme Court has ruled that marital rape is rape and that everyone has the right to get an abortion up to 24 weeks in a pregnancy, regardless of their marital status.
In India, single women were unable to get an abortion due to a 1971 law that had limited abortions to only married women, divorcees, widows, minors, “disabled and mentally ill women” and survivors of sexual assault or rape, according to Reuters.
The ruling on Thursday Sep. 29 came after a woman petitioned the court for an abortion after she got pregnant from consensual relationship but was unable to seek an abortion when the relationship failed, Reuters reported.
In its ruling, the judge said that anyone can undergo an abortion up to 24 weeks regardless of their marital status.
“The decision to have or not to have an abortion is borne out of complicated life circumstances, which only the woman can choose on her own terms without external interference or influence,” the court ruling said.
Clarifying the law, the court also said that sexual assault by husbands is considered spousal rape.
Under current laws, sex “by a man with his own wife” who’s not a minor is not rape, according to the BBC.
Marital rape is not yet a crime in India, but efforts are being made to change this, according to Reuters.
Activists have hailed the verdict as a milestone for women’s rights in India.